Sense of Home

Popularity of Marie Kondo’s Joy of tidiness, footprint reduction efforts and working remotely sparked a resurgence in minimalistic living in the last decade.

Varying generations freed themselves of life clutter and focused on conscious consumerism. Some radically reduced to live permanently on the road with one suitcase. Blogs focused on living in a van, off grid or tiny home are commonplace.

Reflections from extreme minimalists include drawbacks, with feelings of a lack of sense of place, and lack of feeling grounded. Regrets noted were giving away or selling irreplaceable items, and not having space for joyful activities and hobbies. 

Even if you aren’t living out of a backpack, extreme minimal interiors can feel impersonal, even sterile. They may lack a feeling of comfort, familiarity, and sense of home.

Though De cluttering and conscious consumerism are wonderfully positive, going to extremes can have a less than positive effect.  One blogger who gave up her extreme minimal life, missed things and activities of value. She wrote “Getting rid of stuff doesn’t reduce stress if your stress is unrelated to owning stuff.”

Downsizing healthfully can be unburdening. If it’s to an extreme where one is deprived of a sense of place, loved things or heirlooms, it can feel punishing, affecting mental & emotional health. 

The minimalist trend actually began in the 50’s and 60’s. According to Minimalism made simple 

It’s interesting the first mention is of Art. 

Art is deeply personal, and an easy way to infuse your space with individuality and warmth.

Art can be a comfort in times of transition, especially if that transition is unexpected, or stressful.

When I helped my Dad move into a nursing home last summer, I did my best to replicate his surroundings with his choices of favourite  furnishings, art, clothing, etc. 

I took reference photos so knew exactly where to place little knick knacks and pictures. I organized books on his bookshelf in the order they had been previously. 

Being surrounded by his favourite treasures, books and art helped to make the move less stressful.

Anyone can apply this concept to make a move to a new home an easier transition. Waking up to see familiar things in familiar places brings a sense of comfort. Peppering surroundings with new acquisitions can be coupled with a sense of ritual. This kind of sense of ceremony if often overlooked in how we introduce new things into our spaces. This act pairs the familiar and new for happy beginnings, and honours a sense of sanctuary. 

We are visual creatures, so art plays an important part.

If the move is one of necessity because of toxic relationships, or home, a positive action during  transition may be to collect a few new pieces of art, and place them in focal point areas. The subject matter is important as well, as Marie Kondo says, that which “sparks joy” is key.

New Water has sold ~ New Flowers, Moonlight, and Island all available for purchase, please email me at dawn@dawnbanning.com for details. Tundra shown in clients home.

Mother Nature

Her creative pursuits were diverse. Mom sewed and knit all of our clothes often without using a pattern. Our home was filled with her creations. Her sewing arts and needlecraft were displayed on the walls, macramé woven by her hand held household plants. Lamps she formed in ceramics sat on mid century tables and blankets she knit were neatly folded on couches. She was rarely without a camera in her hand, and loved many forms of music. 

We were transferred often with Dad’s work as a conservation officer in parks. Mom wall papered, painted and decorated every house we lived in, no matter how short the stay. 

“Make your home where ever you are.”She would say. When I think about it now, it’s amazing her time and effort creating an amazing home environment, while balancing household responsibilities, raising two children and her nursing career.

Above all her passions, one of her great loves was gardening. She planted gardens where ever we lived and in all the parks public spaces. Her creativity shone in plantings. 

One steadfast rule Mom had when planting a garden was “It has to survive without me.”

She believed in planting for the land, as much as for who would enjoy it. Plants had to be natural to the region and drought tolerant.

When my parents built their dream home, designed by my Mom and her brother, above the shores of Manitou, they spent 5 years creating an amazing xeriscape garden sanctuary.  

“Because watering lawns is one of the largest water wastes that exists,” Mom said, the yard was void of one. Built with sand pathways that wound and climbed among gardens, trees and shrubs, it drew butterflies, humming birds, and curious tourists. Community in Blooms awarded my parents the xeriscaping award of the year, several years in a row.

Mom lived an active healthy lifestyle. Her philosophy in thriving meant focus included how we live, function in indoor and outdoor spaces. Importance was on functional happy homes filled with handmade creations, and gardens that welcomed all. She believed healthy living encompassed  how we treat ourselves and the land where we live with thoughtful respect. “We don’t really own the land,” she would say, “we are simply caretakers.”

Wellbeing Interiors

‘I felt like I was walking into someone else’s home”, a friend confided after styling her new apartment like one in a magazine.

“It just doesn’t feel like me.” She said. “and all those decorative baskets just get dusty.”

Interior choices benefit beyond aesthetic, and a ‘one size fits all’ concept diminishes individuality . Interior design should be as personal and unique as you are. 

Mountain 4ftx3ft $4780.oo

Spacial flow, elements in design, functionality and collections have a direct influence on health and well being. Key to orchestrating a positive experience is to knowing yourself, and experimenting with what feels right. Once you’ve established great functional flowing spaces, you can make selections to enhance experience. 

 Creating your home environment based on individuality is empowering.  I have witnessed this in art collectors. As they gain confidence in collecting, their appreciation and collections grow. They understand living with art is a deep and personal relationship. It becomes a part of their story, their legacy. There is nothing “decorative” about it. 

Tundra and River both available for purchase

Orchestrating interior spaces is a foundation of well being.  Interior environment influences mood, behaviour, energy, choices, conversations, nutrition, sleep, relationships, creativity, and productivity.

Every single item in this environment will influence in ways we are just beginning to comprehend. I’ve written about some of the remarkable studies that exhibit how strongly we are affected. 

Intentional interior design doesn’t require a huge budget, rather, it requires time, observation and self knowledge. It requires a tender reflection on your desires, dreams, and what you respond to. It’s based on natural sensory experiences.

The pandemic has created a rise in demand and value for handmade items in the home. One designer wrote people are buying items that make them happy, desiring sophisticated  ‘approachable comfort”.  People yearn for positive emotional connections in their home. It’s no coincidence one of the most soothing colours, sage green is the colour of the year. 

Forest bench 18×24 $1330.oo

It’s been said humans respond more positively to handmade items more factory made. We innately feel the difference.

Robert Genn once wrote about strength of energy in each handmade creation. When manufactured thru a process of large scale reproduction mechanically, that energy becomes watered down, even disappearing in the process. It loses it’s ‘essence’.

Valley Light 20×24 $1700.oo

While orchestrating your environment, experts suggest considering air, sound and light quality, sensory experiences, choosing natural fibres and materials, and introducing biophillia ( plants, nature inspired art and design to bring a sense of the outdoors inside.)

Consider choosing tactile pieces, art, and furnishings that positively resonate and have the feel of the maker. 

Focus on the items and views you engage with daily, these are important energy feeds or depletions and not to be overlooked. Awareness is these interactions will help you be thoughtful in your considerations. 

In my personal spaces and collections, I choose elements that positively fuel my mind, body and spirit. 

I focus on function, flow and feel. 

Functioning efficiently in my home in healthy, inspiring spaces that flow, I am not only happier and more efficient myself, I have more energy for the important stuff. 

Being grounded and energized in our dwelling transfers directly to interactions, work, ideas, and self value. 

Lake Light 8×10 $550.oo

If we recognize that true interior design’s purpose is to cater to the home dwellers health and well being, perspective changes from it being toted as a luxury ideal.

Note: elements to consider in your design choices:  original art and the view they create: plants: woven textiles, like handwoven dishcloths and blankets, quilts : fibre art ( sound buffer and tactile) pottery clay dish ware: Handmade wood features & furnishings, woven wool rugs, handmade metal lighting & hardware, stained glass, or handmade blown glass.

Consider colour infusions you relate to and mimic colour in nature: colours that inspire calm are green and blue, try mixing with natural earth colours like warm gray, brown tones, siennas and fresh oatmeals to create a nature scape palette. 

Benefits of living with art~ link below

Familiar Paths

4 new commissions/ SOLD

Are familiar trails truly familiar, or only habitual? 

Do you recognize when the earth dips a little beneath your feet, or rises to meet them? When the trail tilts a little to the left?

Do you feel the undulations, however so slight?

What times of day does the light change, and how so? How do the seasons affect the light and landscape?

Being present in a space can require a depth of attention we don’t often allow ourselves.

Observing in a new way may bring new perspectives. Boredom doesn’t exist when we truly observe with focused curiosity. 

Deer have their pathways through these hills, but could I map them when I am far away from here? Exactly, where they wind and loop in the valley?

Could I replicate exactly where wild sage meets the poplars, and the interesting granite stones that dot the hillside?

I know where chickadees populate the bush, but could I walk blindfolded and recognize the moment which I would pass by the flock? 

What are you conscious of when you wander familiar pathways? 

PS

All new commissions are places near and dear to the client’s heart. It’s a wonder to work from these amazing photos of their special places. Successful commissions are dependent on great research photos, stories of these places, and complete trust in the artist. Giving me free rein in artistic vision makes these paintings sing.

~ NEW~ Lupines 1 & 2, Wild Rose~ Path to the Sea ~ commissions, original oil on canvas~ SOLD

~ NEW~ Work in progress below..

Instrument of Peace

How do I create when there is so much suffering in the world?” an artist wrote in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. He continued, “it feels pointless and trivial to be creating and selling my art right now. It feels wrong.”

Recently artists are expressing similar feelings. 

These can be natural responses, and at times accompanied with misplaced guilt. Addressing  mental & emotional health are key to coping. It’s so important to have support systems, speak with professionals, and take self care.

Interestingly, these very artists who wrote have donated art and financial aid to humanitarian relief efforts for Ukraine. They supported health care causes during the pandemic and gave price breaks on their work during tough economic times.

The arts and humanities contribute immensely and immeasurably to medical education. As different ways of knowing, sharing, and meaning-making, the arts and humanities strengthen our understanding, inspire compassion and creativity, and stimulate our cognitive capacities.… Enriching our experience, the arts and humanities connect us with the lives and perspectives of others, proffering fundamental insights into illness and suffering, health and healing.” 

It isn’t trivial to create and share art that instills calm and healing to whoever is in it’s midst. It isn’t trivial to provide for yourself and your family doing what you love, with integrity and passion.

Artists and the arts have long been great champions of goodwill. They often play a huge part in fundraising for worthy causes. 

The arts can be great instruments of peace.

Whatever you do, do not undervalue what you bring to the world.

Positive contributions on all levels make a difference. Like, raising global thinking humanitarian children, for instance.

Every daily gesture of kindness brings peace to the world. 

Every conscious act of protecting the earth contributes to the health of humanity and all living things.

Even small moments of gratitude and joy help to relieve sorrow.

Peace and love to you all, dear friends. 

P.S One morning while visiting my parents, I struggled whether to go for my morning run. Mom’s health had declined. Confined to a wheelchair, she could no longer walk or run. I felt guilty about running when she couldn’t. She said “how exactly would that help me? I’d feel worse, knowing you have healthy legs, and yet decide not use, enjoy, or keep them strong? Do not neglect your gift, nurture and savour it.” Years later, nearing the end of her time, while I was lifting Mom from her bed, she looked down and said, “look at those beautiful strong legs of yours.” In that moment I realized, they weren’t just serving me, they were now also serving her. 

We never really know how we may be called or required to serve. It helps to have a healthy foundation and take self care, so we can. 

~

First painting shown~ SUN- 11×14 original oil- all proceeds from the sale of this painting will be donated to the Red Cross for Ukraine, and the United Nations High Commission for refugees Ukraine. 800.oo$

~

NEW- Private commission- ‘Sanctuary’ SOLD- 20×24 original oil

~

Mother and Baby- new- see video for story on this painting on Instagram. @Dawnartworks

Showing Up

Do you ever give yourself a break for showing up? For being present, in whatever that is or may be for you right  now?

Media says it’s been a great time to be creative. When the world ‘stopped’ the creatives got busy. With a love of isolation and without distraction, this would be the perfect storm for them. Musicians, actors, writers, painters, creatives of all genres would be busy bees in their studios while the storm passed overhead. 

The thing is, no one avoided the storm.

I have spoken to creatives that haven’t worked in over two years. Some are under so much pressure, when a project doesn’t pan out,  a normal part of process, it is felt as much more.  There is so much riding on what work is available. The struggle is real, and it’s felt. 

It’s my belief, that sometimes you need to give yourself credit for showing up. Maybe today’s work ended in the trash and the client didn’t call back, but you were present, and open. You showed up. Growth can require struggle, failure and fear. Showing up is courageous. 

Years ago a client pointed to a stack of canvas in the corner of my studio. “What ones are those?” He asked. ‘Duds” I said. “ Duds? I thought you were a professional. You should know what you are doing by now.”

I responded. “That’s how I know they are duds.”

In an art business course, artists were encouraged to create a daily mantra to help stay grounded and focused on their intention.

It’s been a very long time since I wrote this, but I still find it’s relevant. I wanted to make it simple, fun, and inclusive of daily joys.

Whatever you do, and where-ever you are, perhaps you feel like composing your own.

It’s my hope you also discover a way to thank yourself for showing up. 

Meditation is the foundation

Go for a run and get things done

Work with intention for ascension

Declutter make hearts happily aflutter

Organize to conceptualize 

Find some play for today

Be kind and be aligned 

Bike for life

Nutrition for fruition

Nature is nurture

Restore to do more

Love first, last, always.

PS. Not long out of school, while attending a friend’s wedding shower, I was introduced to an interesting diverse couple, long married with a lovely family. They had unique challenging careers and had lived on several continents. I asked them what their secret was for such a happy marriage. I never forgot the gentleman’s response. “Show up. Show up every day, no matter what the day brings. Just show up.” 

~

NEW work- Though One very large painting is off to the trash this week, I am very pleased with these two new paintings!!

Winter Whisper 11×14 $770.oo

Summer Forest Trail 16×20 $1,330.oo

Winter Love

The Canadian prairies are known for long cold winters.

It wasn’t a matter of liking or not liking winter, because it would come regardless. 

Living, working and surviving on the prairies is a part of living compatibly with the seasons.

Considering the extended months of winter, it may seem odd to think of February as ‘nearly spring’. 

Spring snow storms would arrive as late as May, but it wouldn’t hamper our outlook that spring was around the corner. 

As I watch the winter storm outside blowing beautiful patterns in the snow, I am reminded, spring is ‘nearly here.’

Studio view

When I lived on Vancouver Island, by this time, crocus, daffodils and hyacinth would be blooming in abundance. Cherry trees lining the waterfront would be glorious pink decadence. Colour would emerge in permanently lush green forest, and fresh scents of blossoms would intermingle with the salty sea air. 

If winter is feeling long, it can be challenging to not wish it away. It’s natural to have moments pining for days of warmth, gardens, and hearing birds at sunrise.

Anticipating the change of season can be a reprieve among perceived ‘sameness’. 

I am reluctant to leap ahead and wish time away. Spring will be beautiful, refreshing and busy. It will bring delightful change and fruition of projects. It will also bring longer work days and tasks filling lists and mind. Without the snow noise buffer, sound can be heard more clearly. The calming silence of winter becomes noisier sounds of summer activity.

Winter holds it’s own kind of sanctuary, in it’s cocooning, muffled peaceful quiet only winter snow can bring. Light reflecting periwinkle blue in early winter morning is one of my all time favourite colours. It’s the only season we see it, and it’s awe inspiring.

When I visit my home province in winter, I relish long solitary quiet forested walks. Witnessing frost clinging to branches and prairie grass in magical wonder always causes me to just absorb it all at an easy life pace. 

“Canadians don’t want winter paintings,” an art dealer told me. “They see enough of winter.” 

Yet, when I reached out on social media wondering if there was interest in winter paintings, response was a resounding ‘yes.’ 

Thanks for your encouragement and reaffirmation that I am not the only one who savours this season. 

Happy winter wanderings friends.

~

Work in progress below~ Please email for details on work available for purchase or to inquire about any of these original paintings. dawn@dawnbanning.com Also note there will be no price increase in 2022.

Moving Forward

Have you ever met an inspiring person that’s had an easy life?

People often suggest my inspiration must come from other artists and their work.

In truth, I am most inspired by other people. 

Human stories, not art ones. These human stories are often filled with resilience, persistence, kindness, and grace. They have heroic elements and inspire me to be a better person, not just artist. 

In the manner of building resilience and coping skills, one familiar point keeps coming up.

Attitude is one important key. How we ‘frame’ or ‘reframe’ events matters.

“We have the ability to decide how we’re going to interpret the adversities we face.”

Eric Barker, best selling author writes the first thing to do when “facing difficulty is to recognize it.”

Survivor stories often say they quickly accepted what was happening so they could move forward with solution solving. It’s a lesson to not dally in denial.

Dr. Ginsburg, Psychologist proposes there are 7 elements of resilience “competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control.”

work in progress..

Last month it felt like nearing the end of  shovelling the driveway, and the snowplough came by and dumped 3 feet of icy heavy snow all along the entrance.

Some of you are facing all kinds of grief and many are feeling the stress of fatigue.

Some shake their heads in anger at the snowplough.  In reality, he is just doing his job. Thankfully for us, he cleared the road so we can get on with our tasks. 

Last week, I could hear the grater before I saw it. What if I didn’t react, externally or internally, and didn’t break stride? As flying snow covered my pant legs and hampered my foot strike, I didn’t break stride.

Internal delight gave me an unexpected energy boost to carry on.

Here are some of my solutions for daily coping:

  1. Do something ‘normal’ daily, still complying with health protocols. It can feel surprisingly good to wash the car. 

2. Focus on what is within control like, attitude, reactions, being of service, self care, and having purpose.

3. Awareness of internal dialogue and interpretation of language. It can have a huge psychological and emotional effect. We can follow health protocols, and still step outside for a deep breath of fresh air. I am not locked, nor down. I choose not to think in that language.

4. Treat others with kindness, connect with loved ones, laugh and work with purpose.

Mom used to say “Suffering doesn’t matter. But how we cope with it does.” She was incredibly resilient and proactive with a sparkling sense of humour. Of all the inspiring people I have met and heroic stories I know, she is at the top of the list. She didn’t have an easy life, but she made living with grace, kindness.. and doing the right thing look effortless.

~ New work above, in progress & familiar. Please email to inquire for purchase.

Also new, is the studio construction in progress. VERY exciting!!

Cadence

Cadence is a rhythmic sequence. In cycling the focus for quick turnover of the legs, or ‘quick cadence’ results in an efficient effort.

In music it is perceived as a “rhythmic or melodic articulation or a harmonic change.”( google def.)

It’s likely sport and appreciation of musical rhythm influence how I think about cadence in art.  My thoughts are two fold. 

In painting, cultivating a specific internal rhythm with brushstroke can eliminate choppy hesitant movements. The painting will develop and progress in a more pleasing manner. It’s also easier to tap into the kind of ‘flow’ Mihaly  Csikszentmihalyi writes about. 

Secondly, in an art career, a healthy cadence between business and creating helps achieve balance.  It is important to compartmentalize these aspects in some ways, as business activities can be detrimental creative process. The pressure and stress of everyday business, especially these days, can stifle productivity in the studio. Having a creative mindset to business may help bridge the gap between how an artist feels about the different dimensions of a creative business.

In the last two years we have seen a strain like no other in the industry.

With these kind of pressures, it’s not unheard of for artists to be a bit frantic in their creating. 

Feeling ‘frantic’ isn’t usually productive for creativity. I’ve been there. 

Being grateful to do what you love for a living, there can be a sense accountability to that gift, and an awareness that life and time are short. That sense of frantic can be passionate, and also overwhelming. External or internal pressure to please everyone, in what we create, or the speed in which we create can be crushing. A frantic pace, or cadence isn’t necessarily healthy, or sustainable.

When the world changed dramatically, I immediately began to problem solve. Seeking new ideas on promoting the work, I researched how venues, dealers and artists were evolving their business practice in a pandemic. I sought out where art collectors were purchasing art, if at all. I thought about size of art, what art budgets might look like, and subject matter. What did people want to see and feel in their spaces. How could I make a difference?

How could I still make a living? 

Always, always painting away, simmering creative ideas. Art like anything else, requires dedicated practice. Stopping can be scary, with fear of losing skill set and the joy.

Recently, I discovered what it feels like to stop.. and let go of the frantic. What’s ironic, is it’s actually increased my enthusiasm for the work, and expanded my creative mindset. 

Time off has been necessary to heal from eye surgery. It’s also practical, I only have so much space for paintings to gather when sales are quiet.

Taking time off hasn’t extinguished my desire to create, or ideas that continue to flow. I have been itching for the brush, not from pressure of clients or galleries monitoring my creative output, or the brain drain of trying to guess what people may want.

This deep pleasurable pull to create is pure and simplified. It’s freeing. 

My artistic cadence is developing into a new delightful rhythm. Proceeding forward with new eyesight, and perspective, it’s exciting to see what will enfold on the easel. 

~

NEW:

Each new painting above are 8×10 oil on canvas board, the last completed mostly with a palette knife.

Hand drawn card below is done in ink and coloured pencil.

Years ago recovering from surgery I said to a friend, “ I can no longer paint 8 hours a day”. She responded, “ What makes you think that was good for you in the first place?”

The New Year

Happy New YEAR!

How are you doing? What’s new? 

Are you speeding headlong into this New Year with plans, projects and a heart full of promise? Or are you easing gently into the year with thoughts of reflection?

Perhaps you’re practicing stillness, which also requires a sense of commitment and courage.

I am all of the above, with exciting creative projects in the works, patience practice, stillness, and gratitude.

Not one to make resolutions, I believe every day holds promise of beginnings and growth.  Yet this month does mark special new beginnings and a return to activities I love, while my eyes continue to heal from eye surgery. It’s incredible to observe the world, with new eyes. It will be baby steps as I go, and I’m pleased to share this new creative journey with you.

Newly completed  “Moonlight” Study an 8×10 in oil, is the first painting I have created without visual aid.

This first piece has personal significance. The vista is the view from my parents home, with the pine trees they planted towering above the lake. I remember the evening so well, standing on the surrounding deck, drinking in the quiet whisper of dusk. 

I have been reading books on mystical fairies, grand forests, and science books about trees. I am fairly certain these have influenced this new painting in progress. It is a large painting I had temporarily set down sideways and discovered something new. It’s exciting to be tackling this vision come to life. 

If this is the year you infuse your home with handmade vibrant, life affirming art, please let me know if I can help. I have a great stock of inventory available for purchase in several sizes. 

Even if you aren’t into collecting original work, or collecting right now, please still drop me a line, let me know you are, and what’s new for you in 2022.

In gratitude, d